The Earlham DNA Foundry

Synthetic biology applies engineering principles such as standardisation and modularisation to biological sciences through application of iterative design-build-test-learn cycles. The standardisation of biological components and reactions allows workflows to be automated. This provides the potential to revolutionise the speed and scale of research, increasing accuracy and allowing miniaturisation to reduce costs. The adoption of these principles and approaches enables scientists to pursue complex experimental designs.

Foundry overview

The Earlham DNA Foundry house suites of laboratory automation that have been used to scale-up molecular biology experimental process. It provides the UK bioscience community will access to automated platforms for nano-scale modular DNA assembly, verification and delivery to plant and microbial cells. It is also able to serve as a repository for large collections of DNA parts, shared under an Open Material Transfer Agreement. The Earlham DNA Foundry will complement the strengths of the Norwich Research Park, providing researchers with a platform to perform large-scale experiments. It will benefit from local multi-disciplinary expertise in metabolic engineering and industrial biotechnology.

Capability objectives

  1. Automated, nanoscale DNA-assembly and validation by sequencing and automated delivery to microbial and plant cells
  2. Connectivity with the ‘omics and phenotyping platforms available at EI, John Innes Centre, Quadram Institute Bioscience and at other UK Synthetic Biology Research Centres to facilitate whole-experiment design
  3. A repository for large collections of standard parts shared under an Open Material Transfer Agreements (OMTA)
  4. Training in synthetic biology approaches to experimentation

Capability impact

Synthetic Biology is an important factor in the growth of the Bioeconomy. Fundamental to synthetic biology is the adoption of standardised, automated, repeatable workflows such as those established at the Earlham DNA Foundry. The Foundry provides a resource for the UK biology and biotechnology communities, providing them with a platform on which they can undertake large-scale projects. It will also transfers skills in the application of synthetic biology principles to experimentation and automation. We will engage in science communication and public engagement programmes on synthetic biology and biotechnology to support the work of the Foundry.

Technologies

  • Nanoscale, modular nanoscale DNA-assembly, particularly suited to projects involving large numbers of genetic parts or combinatorial libraries
  • DNA transformation, colony picking and purification
  • Genome engineering
  • Expression analyses
  • Micro-fermentation (coming soon)

Explore our technologies.

The lab primarily focuses on automation, which is delivered with a number of technology platforms:

Arktic biostore

Echo 550

Access Laboratory Workstation

Microlab STAR

Interested in using our technology?

If you’re working with a new synthetic biology chassis and are looking for cost-effective ways of generating a genome reference please contact us.

Nicola Patron, nicola.patron@earlham.ac.uk

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